The new online safety authority, Coimisiún na Meán, and An Garda Síochána will be the bodies responsible for tackling online terrorism content, the Department of Justice has said.
It follows notification that the European Commission has issued an infringement notice to Ireland for failing to address the dissemination of terrorist material online.
Far-right terrorism and radicalisation falls under the regulation, but it will be up to local police and security services — the Gardaí in Ireland —
to determine if far-right extremist abuse, intimidation and threats, as seen in some anti-refugee protests in recent weeks, is judged as coming under its remit.
The Department of Justice said that Ireland was one of a “large number” of member states that proceedings have been launched against, but said work was underway to deal with the matter.
In addition to the new body and the gardaí, the Government is also considering designating a third body with responsibility.
The European Commission (EC) said it had started an infringement procedure by “sending letters of formal notice” to Ireland and 21 other member states for “incorrect implementation” of the EU Regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online.
The regulation was introduced on June 7, 2022.
The EC said that the full implementation of the regulation was “fundamental to prevent terrorists from misusing the internet to spread their ideology, intimidate, radicalise and recruit citizens online”.
The regulation provides a legal framework to ensure removal of terrorist content online “within one hour” after receipt of a removal order issued by a national competent authority.
It said that there remained “strong safeguards” to guarantee that freedom of expression and information were fully respected.
The EC said Ireland and the other 21 member states have “failed to fully implement” the obligations under the regulation and they have now two months to respond to the Commission.
The regulation states that online terrorism material can include texts, images, sound recordings and videos and live streaming.
It places the task of determining whether or not extreme views cross the line into terrorism at the door of local police and security services.
It said these agencies need to take into account factors such “as the nature and wording of statements, the context in which the statements were made and their potential to lead to harmful consequences in respect of the security and safety of persons”.
It will be up to gardaí here to determine whether online videos and live streaming by far-right activists here constitute material that comes under the regulation.
Last month, Ireland was one of 14 countries that took part in a Europol-coordinated day of action against violent right-wing extremism and terrorist content.
Separately, the Government is also introducing legislation criminalising hate speech and updating incitement to hatred laws.
The Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022 was signed into law on 10 December 2022, and sets up Coimisiún na Meán.